Skip to main content

Full text of "My country and my people"

See other formats

WOMAN'S  LIFE                    151
forced upon him by a more distinguished family. Or one of the families might move to another city and they might never see each other again. Or even if the young man sojourning abroad^" should remain faithful, yet a war might come between, and there might be interminable waiting and delay. For me young maiden waiting in the secluded chamber there was- only sadness and longing. If the girl were a real and passionate lover she became seriously lovesick (which is amazingly common in Chinese love stories), with all light and gladness gone from her eyes, and her parents, alarmed at the situation, would then begin to make inquiries and save her life by arranging the desired marriage, and so after all they might live happily ever after.
Love then was mixed with tears and sadness and longing in Chinese thought, and the effect of this seclusion of women was to introduce a plaintive, languorous tone in all Chinese love poetry. Any Chinese love song after the T'ang Dynasty is invariably one of longing, resignation and infinite sadness. Often it is the song of the secluded maiden pining for her lover, or kwdyuan, or that of the forsaken \vife, cKifuy both of which were, strange to say, extremely favourite topics with the male poets.
Consonant with the general negative attitude toward life, Chinese songs of love are songs of absence, of ^c^parture, of frustrated hopes and unquenchable longing, of rain and the twilight and the empty chamber and the "cold bed," of solitary regret and hatred against man's inconstancy and the castaway fan in autumn, of departing spring and faded blossoms and fading beauty, of the flickering candlelight and winter nights and general emaciation, of self-pity and approaching death. This mood finds its typical expression in Taiyii's poem before her approaching death, after she knew that her cousin was going to become Paoyu's wife, lines that ar^ memorable for their infinite sadness:
This year I am burying the dropped blossoms, Next year who is going to bury me?
But sometimes the girl may be lucky- and may become a